Young Bears too tough for Titans
RIFLE — With a roster full of new faces, it only made sense that some of them made a difference down the stretch for the Rifle High School girls basketball team on Tuesday night.
Freshmen Elly Walters and Jessie Pressler combined for 10 points during a key fourth-quarter run for the Bears, who pulled away from a scrappy Coal Ridge Titans squad on their way to a 49-39 victory in front of a packed house at the Rifle High School gym.
“Both of them were big for us,” second-year Rifle coach Kristy Wallner said.
Walters — the daughter of Rifle boys basketball coach Roger Walters — made the biggest difference down the stretch in helping Rifle (3-0) remain unbeaten. She finished with 13 points — Rifle senior Whitney Vance finished with a game-high 15 — and her 3-pointer with 6 minutes, 40 seconds remaining gave the Bears the lead for good.
Wallner said Walters had played in 103 summer-league basketball games this past summer, which helped the freshman point guard keep her composure down the stretch of a tight ballgame.
“Really?” Walters said when told the number of games she’d played.
“Wow!” she continued with a laugh. “I didn’t know I’d played that many games. It made a difference, though.”
The way the first-year Coal Ridge coach sees it, there was a world of difference between the way the Titans (0-3) played on Tuesday compared to the way they’d played during their first two games of the season, both road losses against Paonia and Cedaredge. Kaitlyn Detlefsen finished with 14 points to pace Coal Ridge, which led 34-33 with 6:51 remaining after a 3-pointer from senior Kyrie Foreman.
“Our girls were much more intense tonight than they were during our first two games,” Young said. “We played aggressive, and that’s a big reason why we were in this game. But we missed a lot of shots at the end, and that hurt us.”
After Walters made her 3 to give the lead back to the Bears for good, Coal Ridge hit only one field goal for the remainder of the game while finishing 3-for-9 shooting at the free-throw line down the stretch.
Meanwhile, Walters followed her 3 with a layup, Tori Pressler hit a pair of 1-and-1 foul shots and, with 2:35 remaining, Jessie Pressler nailed a 3 to put Rifle up 43-39. A pair of foul shots from Walters, plus four down-the-stretch points from Emily Neuroth, capped the scoring for Rifle.
And Rifle’s defense led the way to that offensive production.
“We really buckled down on our helpside defense against their guards,” Jessie Pressler said. “They didn’t score after that.”
Mariela Martinez, Jenny Call and Foreman each added five points for Coal Ridge. Neuroth finished with seven points and eight rebounds, doing all of her scoring in the second half because of first-half foul trouble.
Rifle 54, Coal Ridge 38
RIFLE — Senior forward Cody Rice finished with 10 points and Austin Boone, Avery Lujan and Blaine Vance each scored eight for the Bears (3-0), who held the Titans without a field goal for close to 10 minutes in between the second and third quarters.
Hunter Gerber finished with a game-high 15 points for Coal Ridge (1-3), which stayed in the game early after a layup from Michael Solis pulled the Titans within 2 at 8-6. A layup from Lujan at the end of the quarter, however, sparked a 16-3 run that staked the Bears to a 24-9 lead with 2:07 left before halftime.
“I told the guys before the game that this was going to be the best defense we’ll see all year,” Coal Ridge coach Paul Harvey said.
Solinger and Greyson Keener each added seven points for the Titans in the loss.
Rifle continues nonleague play at Aspen on Dec. 12. Coal Ridge is off until January when it starts 3A Western Slope League play at Basalt.
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